Live from the Moda Center as the Portland Trail Blazers host the Houston Rockets in some hot playoff basketball action. Unlike the last game at the Moda Center, this one counts.
So, uh, this LaMarcus Aldridge guy? Yeah, he’s pretty good.
Aldridge has been balling out of his mind. He’s on an otherworldly plane, up there with Bruce Springsteen circa 1975 and Jesus. In game one, he set a Portland franchise record with forty-six points. He followed that up with a forty-two point game, joining a small, elite list of players to ever score forty points back to back in the post-season. Houston so far has been helpless against his crushing attack. The playoffs have their breakout star.
Behind Aldridge’s mid-range game, the Blazers have raced out to a surprising 2-0 series lead. Seriously, did anyone see this coming other than Robin Lopez’s mom? Most pundits had Houston winning this series in either five or six games and yet here we are, Portland coming home with a commanding lead. Nuts.
Aldridge’s play has been garnering some national attention, but the media is still focusing on the fact that Houston is losing. What are they doing wrong? What can they do better? Will Dwight Howard ever lead a team to a championship? Did James Harden die? Keep those narratives coming. It’s that much more fuel for Portland’s “nobody believes in us” fire.
I haven’t mentioned him enough already, so I’m going to drop Aldridge’s name one more time for good measure. Dude deserves it.
Wait, seriously, did James Harden actually die? Is that just Jim Harden with a beard wig? He’s been an absolute ghost so far this series. It’s a little troublesome because you know he’s going to drop fifty sooner rather than later. The Harden game is coming. The Kraken will be released.
It’s weird to call game three, after racing out to a 2-0 lead, a must win, but the Blazers need this victory tonight. They can’t ease up. If the Rockets walk away with a win, the whole narrative shifts with Houston gaining traction in the series. If the Blazers pull it out, it’s all but over. The Moda Center is going to be amped, LED glow sticks and all, so the Blazers should be able to avoid an emotional letdown and keep their intensity up. But, what do I know? I'm just a media weirdo.
A case could be made for the Memphis / Oklahoma City series, but (homer pick alert!) this has been the most entertaining matchup so far this post-season. I’m so excited I don’t know if I’m going to make it. Did you ever see that scene from Scanners when that dude’s head explodes? If I go quiet during the fourth, you know what happened.
Well, shoot. Some sad news to report. Dr. Jack Ramsay is in hospice. Come on, Blazers. Win this one for him.
It looks like the Rockets will go with Omer Asik in the starting lineup over Terrence Jones. They're desperate to stop LaMarcus. Good luck.
Guys, it is LOUD in here. This is bonkers. You can't even hear the Rockets players intros over the "Let's Go Blazers" chants. Way to bring it, Portland fans.
11:13 - Patrick Beverley gets the scoring going with a corner three, but dang, it almost already feels like this one is over. I don't know Houston is going to top this crowd. 3-0 Rockets.
9:48 - Or not. LaMarcus is 0-3, and the Rockets have jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead. 8-0 Rockets.
8:52 - You haven't lived until you've heard a crowd cheer a Dwight Howard foul. Wow. Damian Lillard took the contact, and hit both his freebies. 9-4 Rockets.
7:09 - Robin Lopez block on one end, Wesley Matthews three on the other. It's so loud I can't think. 13-9 Rockets.
6:11 - Okay, I take that back. You haven't lived until you've heard a crowd cheer a Dwight Howard traveling violation. I am two seconds away from breaking out my ear plugs. This blog is going to devolve into unintelligible noises real soon. 13-11 Rockets.
5:29 - You can't guard LaMarcus right now. It's simply not possible. 13-13 Tie.
3:52 - The crowd is too into this game. Good god, is that...Joey Crawford's music?! Crawford called a foul on what looked to be a travel, and Joey put his stamp all over that one. 21-15 Rockets.
2:51 - Harden is having such a terrible series. I thought this would be his game, but so far he's just been a liability. If he doesn't turn it around soon, Houston is doomed. His last turnover led to an immediate Nicolas Batum (aka the guy he was supposed to be guarding) corner three. 21-18 Rockets.
1:14 - Thomas Robinson had such a nice transition block on Harden, but it was waived off due to a goal tend. On closer review, man that was a bad call. 27-20 Rockets.
0:10 - There's James Harden. With the clock winding down, he pulled a wicked step-back on Wesley Matthews and hit nothing but the bottom of the net. 32-24 Rockets.
0:00 - Well, this crowd isn't happy, and nor should they be. A Wesley Matthews three was called off due to an illegal pick by Mo Williams. With the quarter ending, Omer Asik leveled Matthews with a pick of his own (no call), and James Harden drained a three as time expired. That's a vicious six point swing. Houston did an amazing job weathering the Portland onslaught. Oh, and James Harden is starting to catch fire. 35-24 Rockets.
11:24 - Troy Daniels for three? Who? 38-26 Rockets.
10:03 - Dorell Wright with an attempted euro-step. Dorell Wright with a failed euro-step. 38-28 Rockets.
9:11 - Dame for three, and the Rockets need time! Lillard leads Portland with seven points. If he gets going from deep, watch out. 38-31 Rockets.
8:27 - After a four point play (basket, missed free throw, offensive rebound, basket), Chandler Parsons missed a dunk in transition and Lillard made the Rockets pay by splashing a jumper in Beverley's eye. What a swing. 38-38 Tie.
7:39 - Blazers lead! Mo Williams put Portland on top with a bank shot in transition. This is bonkers! 40-38 Blazers.
7:14 - Robin Lopez hit a ten foot jumper along the baseline! Houston needs time! My ears! What a sequence! 42-38 Blazers.
6:05 - Lillard for three. I don't even. 45-40 Blazers.
5:50 - Twitter told me that the Blazers went on a 16-0 run during all that madness. It felt closer to 45-0. 45-42 Blazers.
3:26 - The Blazers are making it a point to go to LaMarcus on the left block. On one possession he drew a foul and Asik, a double from Asik and Howard, and his missed shot left Joel Freeland wide open for an offensive rebound because of said double. That guy is real good. 48-45 Rockets.
2:49 - They are showing the Brandon Roy three (you know the one) against the Rockets on the jumbotron during this latest timeout. The crowd went wild all over again when it fell. Memories. 48-48 Tie.
2:35 - James Harden and Dwight Howard are finally running pick and rolls together, and they've been successful every single time. It only took nine quarters of basketball to figure that out. Good work, guys. 50-48 Rockets.
0:59 - Wesley Matthews was called for a foul for defending Harden a little too close. The Rockets go right back to the same play with Harden in the post, but this time the Blazers put Batum on him. Batum and his long arms were able to knock the entry pass away, and then get fouled by Harden as they're chasing after the loose ball. Two freebies for Batum later, and we're all tied. up. 54-54 Tie.
0:00 - Harden got away with an offensive foul on Batum but missed the step back jumper. On the ensuing rebound, Lillard drew a foul on Beverley with .01 left on the clock. Dame was only able to split the pair of freebies, but that was enough to give Portland the lead heading into half. What a game. What a series. I want a Portland sweep, but I also never want this series to end. 55-54 Blazers.
10:46 - Well, it's probably safe to say LaMarcus won't hit forty again. He's 2-9 on the night and only has four points. That's what happens when you fly too close to the sun. 58-56 Rockets.
9:47 - I spoke too soon. That's four straight points for Aldridge, two on foul shots and two on a wicked fadeaway over Asik. 60-58 Blazers.
9:00 - Dame pull up three in transition? Ball. 63-61 Blazers.
8:18 - Uh oh, Aldridge's jumper is wet. He's got that swagger going. It's about to get filthy in here. 65-63 Blazers.
6:39 - Two straight threes for the Rockets, and I just found a hole in my favorite shirt. That was easily the worst 45 seconds of the night. 71-65 Rockets.
5:23 - Aldridge draws the attention, Batum hits the wide open three. Rinse. Repeat. 73-70 Rockets.
4:09 - Batum is being so aggressive tonight, driving hard to the rim and shooting without conscience. The swingman has seventeen points, the second highest total for the Blazers tonight. More of that. 75-72 Rockets.
2:40 - Two more points for Batum on a diving cut to the rim. I love this version of Batum more than anything. Both him and Dame have nineteen on the night, pacing the Blazers. Now, if they can just get a stop. 77-74 Rockets.
0:56 - Dwight's last two possessions were a turnover and getting his shot blocked at the rim by Dorell Wright. Needless to say, the arena is overjoyed. 79-76 Rockets.
0:00 - Asik missed at the rim as the quarter expired, but Portland still ended up getting outscored in the third despite Dorell Wright's attempt to block every shot in sight. This fourth quarter is going to be out of control. I can't wait. 81-78 Rockets.
11:20 - Troy Daniels hit is second three of the game and now I'm dead. 84-78 Rockets.
10:56 - Omer Asik three-point play. Before I was just mostly dead. Now I'm all the way dead. 87-78 Rockets.
10:17 - A 9-2 run to start the quarter, capped by a James Harden three, forces Terry Stotts to call time. Is it too early to panic? 90-80 Rockets.
9:45 - Well, that's a first. A random "We Are, Rip City" chant has broken out here at the Moda Center. Everyone must have really liked that last Aldridge jumper. 90-82 Rockets.
9:14 - Aldridge with an amazing and one jumper, but, oh, there's Joey Crawford to call the foul on the floor. No shot. Oh, Joey, if you're hurting so am I. 92-82 Rockets.
9:08 - Three quick fouls on the Rockets has Portland in the penalty. Be aggressive. Be, be aggressive. 92-83 Rockets.
7:47 - Who needs defensive stops when you have Mo Williams picking up four-point plays? That was something. This crowd is feeling it now. 96-89 Rockets.
7:17 - Mo Williams! When he's on he's on, the king of the no no no YES! shot. He splashed a jumper right in James Harden's face, and the Rockets need time. 96-91 Rockets.
6:48 - A three-point play for Dame was called off, the refs opting instead to call an offensive foul with James Harden getting the whistle. The fans are none too happy with that one. 98-91 Rockets.
5:49 - The refs are going to lose this one soon. There were two quick foul calls on Aldridge, plus a missed out of bounds call that clearly went off Howard got called in the Rockets' favor. The tension is thick.102-93 Rockets.
5:17 - It almost seemed like it might have been Hack-a-Howard time, but Aldridge converted on a three-point play out of the timeout and it looks like they'll play on. 102-96 Rockets.
5:06 - Well, it may not have been that intentional, but Dwight Howard was fouled by Mo Williams in the post. He split the pair at the line. That might have been as loud as the crowd has gotten all night, waiting for him to shoot his freebies. 103-96 Rockets.
4:05 - WOAH! WOOOOOAH! Dame just converted on the most ridiculous and one, drawing the contact and flinging the ball up and over the outstretched arms of Howard as he fell to the floor. Everyone is standing after that one, and it doesn't look like anyone will be sitting back down anytime soon. 103-101 Rockets.
3:15 - Right when the needed a stop, Wesley Matthews played unbelievable defense on Harden and forced him into a 24 second violation! 105-103 Rockets.
1:59 - Matthews locked down Harden on one end, Dame torched him on the other! Blazers lead! Alright, who has a paper bag for me to breathe into for the next two minutes? 107-106 Blazers.
1:08 - Well, just want you want to decide a game: Free throws. Harden has picked up two superstar calls on the last two possessions, and has hit all four of his freebies. 110-107 Rockets.
0:49 - Batum for three! Blskdjosijss!!! alsj;falsdfj! I don't even know what is happening! 110-110 Tie.
0:03 - Lillad with a chance for the lead. He crossed over Beverley, stepped back...and pushed it long. The Rockets grabbed the rebound, called time, and they'll have a chance for the win. But they'll have to inbound from Portland's side of the court. 110-110 Tie.
0:00 - Harden dribbles through two defenders, fires from half-court, and it isn't even close. Free basketball! 110-110 Tie.
4:22 - Batum had Harden on him, and he knew exactly what to do. Drive it to the hole. That's the easiest two points he'll get all night. Thanks, James! 112-110 Blazers.
3:40 - Chandler Parsons picked up his sixth foul and he's done for the night. Aldridge stepped to the line amidst a flurry of MVP chants and cooly sank them both. 114-112 Blazers.
3:08 - Jesus, James Harden is just getting torched. Lillard had him on him, called away the pick from Batum, cleared out a side of the floor and drove to the hoop for an easy layup. Portland should run this exact play every single time from here on out. 116-112 Blazers.
2:14 - Welp, Matthews just fouled out. He's was doing a stellar job guarding Harden, so now it's Batum's time to shine. 116-114 Blazers.
1:17 - Jeremy Lin had the ball and a chance to give the Rockets their first lead of this overtime, but he lost the handle and Batum was able to dive on top of the loose ball. Timeout Portland, tie game, one minute and one millions heart attacks left. 116-116 Tie.
0:11 - Troy Daniels?! Really? After both teams going cold, a broken play (that was this close to being a Portland fast break) led to a wide open three from Troy Daniels. The Rockets are in control. 119-116 Rockets.
0:01 - Batum with a great look for the tie...and it's off. Blazers foul, one second left, and the Rockets are going to escape here tonight with a win. 119-116 Rockets.
FINAL: 121-116 Rockets. Ugh. What a game, but ugh. Troy Daniels was the big hero, just liked everybody called. That's a heartbreaking loss, but the Blazers are still ahead in the driver's seat. They have to win game four, which will be happening on Sunday evening.